indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Alaska governor loses subsistence rights appeal
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Filed Under: Law | Politics

An Alaska Native subsistence rights case that Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee, appealed was rejected by a federal court on Tuesday.

In a unanimous decision, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to overturn federal approval of a subsistence moose hunt in rural Alaska. The Cheesh-na Tribal Council won the right to expand its traditional and customary hunting area before the Federal Subsistence Board.

Palin's administration challenged the board's approval in hopes of limiting where tribal members could hunt. But the 9th Circuit said the evidence strongly favored the tribal council, whose leaders intervened in the case with the help of the Native American Rights Fund.

NARF attorney Heather Kendall-Miller represented the tribe and its president, Larry Sinyon. She cited the case in a widely-read critique of Palin that has been circulating in Indian Country ever since the governor was selected by Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) as his running mate.

"Palin's attack here has targeted (among others) the Ahtna Indian people in Chistochina; and although the federal court last year rejected this challenge, too, Palin has refused to lay down her arms," wrote Kendall-Miller and her husband, Lloyd Miller, another prominent Native rights attorney. "The battle has thus moved on to the appellate courts."

McCain supporters have dismissed the charges as unfounded. In an interview with Indian Country Today, Ken Johns, the president of the Ahtna Inc., an Alaska Native regional corporation whose shareholders are affected by the case, said Palin was only trying to protect the state's interests.

"She inherited these cases, and I'm not surprised she didn't just drop them," Johns told ICT.

Palin's Republican predecessor, former governor Frank Murkowski, initiated the challenge to the Federal Subsistence Board's decision in 2005. But it was Palin who took the case to the 9th Circuit -- after a federal judge issued a final judgment in June 2007, her administration filed the opening brief with the appellate court in December 2007, a year after she took office.

With subsistence a hot political issue in Alaska, it's not unheard of for the state's top executive to become personally involved in litigation. In 2001, former governor Tony Knowles (D) stopped the state from taking a significant Native rights case to the U.S. Supreme Court after meeting with Katie John, the Native elder at the heart of the dispute.

"We must stop a losing legal strategy that threatens to make a permanent divide among Alaskans," Knowles, who remains popular among Alaska Natives, said at the time. "I believe Alaska must do everything it can to protect, not fight, the subsistence rights of rural Alaskans."

Knowles unsuccessfully ran against Palin for the governor's seat in 2006 and tried to make her lack of experience with Alaska Natives an issue in the campaign. After Palin canceled a meeting with Native executives, she acknowledged she didn't "know enough" about the issue.

"I didn't know enough about tribal government and we did not have time to do all the research to give the subject its due," Palin told The Anchorage Daily News in October 2006.

McCain supporters have noted that Palin's husband, Todd, is Alaska Native but his heritage doesn't appear to have brought about any major changes in the state's tumultuous relationship with Alaska Natives. State Republicans have long refused to accept the federal status of the more than 200 tribes in the state and they funded lengthy battles against Native subsistence rights.

Last year, Palin appointed a Native subsistence rights opponent to an important state board. She relented only after Native groups complained. A Native person was appointed instead.

The Palins are at the heart of an investigation into the firing of Walt Monegan, the first Alaska Native to serve as public safety commissioner. Todd Palin refused to testify before a state legislative panel that was created to look into the matter.

After firing Monegan, Palin appointed someone who was the subject of a sexual harassment complaint. That candidate withdrew amid controversy and she ended up appointing a Native person to the post.

9th Circuit Decision:
Alaska v. Federal Subsistence Board (September 23, 2008)

Related Stories:
9th Circuit decision in Alaska subsistence case (9/23)
Opinion: McCain-Palin 'old school' on Indians (9/23)
Turtle Talk: Sen. McCain and future of Indian law (9/22)
Newsweek: Gov. Sarah Palin's pipeline to nowhere (9/22)
Alaska's 'First Dude' active in state business (9/22)
Alaska Real: Todd Palin's indigenous roots (9/19)
Probe of Alaska Native official's firing awaits testimony (9/18)
Campbell: Gov. Palin supports Alaska Natives (9/17)
Gov. Palin attacks Alaska Native official's work (9/16)
Alaska Native named public safety commissioner (9/15)
Attorneys: Gov. Palin's record on Alaska Natives (09/09)
Palin billed state for living at home and family travel (9/9)
Editorial: Gov. Palin stalling on Troopergate probe (9/8)
Gov. Palin claims trooper disparaged Natives (9/4)
Column: Liberals smear 'drunken Indian' husband (9/3)
Governor's husband takes on role as 'First Dude' (9/3)
Fired Alaska Native cop not contacted by McCain (9/2)
McCain picks Alaska governor for running mate (9/1)
Sen. McCain to announce vice presidential pick (08/28)
Alaska lawmakers to probe firing of Native top cop (7/29)
Controversy continues over new Alaska top cop (7/25)
New Alaska top cop was accused of harassment (7/23)
Probe sought into firing of Alaska Native top cop (7/22)
Fired Alaska Native cop cites pressure from governor (7/21)
Alaska governor defends firing of Native top cop (7/18)
First Alaska Native public safety official fired (7/14)
Alaska Native appointed to state game board (2/11)
No Natives named to Alaska Board of Game (2/7)



Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux officer rejoins Rapid City police (10/30)
Mark Trahant: Native voters must be prepared on election day (10/30)
Kevin Gover: Mascot fight exposes myths about Native people (10/30)
Northern Arapaho Tribe: Newspaper got it wrong on joint council (10/30)
Peter d'Errico: Kevin Washburn honored by Indian law students (10/30)
Chris Deschene still urging Navajo Nation voters to choose him (10/30)
Tribes in North Carolina back Democrat Sen. Hagan in tight race (10/30)
NWPR: Tribes take steps to control growing herds of wild horses (10/30)
Opinion: Helping the Tongva people revive their own language (10/30)
Judge grants injunction to keep Chukchansi Tribe casino closed (10/30)
Tribes in South Dakota would benefit from gaming referendum (10/30)
Employee at Puyallup Tribe's casino gets wedding ring returned (10/30)
Editorial: Keep tribal casinos in California on existing Indian land (10/30)
Column: Menominee Nation off-reservation casino goes ignored (10/30)
Quapaw Tribe faces competition for Kansas commercial casino (10/30)
Native Sun News: Montana tribe sees cut in heating assistance (10/29)
Mark Trahant: Alaska Senate race is a real test of Native policy (10/29)
Winona LaDuke: Taking treaty advice from indigenous nations (10/29)
Vena A-Dae Romero: FDA failing to consult tribal governments (10/29)
Zachary Pullin: Native Americans overcame barriers to voting (10/29)
Navajo Nation president vetoes bill to address language issue (10/29)
Prairie Island Indian Community sues over nuclear waste rule (10/29)
County's letter on CSKT water compact talks stirs controversy (10/29)
Vice: Hip-hop artist Drezus on new journey after jail sentence (10/29)
Opinion: Overcoming stereotypes of Native American culture (10/29)
Charges sought in dispute at Chukchansi Tribe's closed casino (10/29)
Pechanga Band chair featured in ads against North Fork casino (10/29)
Grand Ronde Tribes continue fight against Cowlitz Tribe casino (10/29)
Puyallup Tribe offers reward for return of casino worker's ring (10/29)
Ask the Expert: Why can't I win at tribal casino slot machines? (10/29)
Native Sun News: Event commemorates Sand Creek Massacre (10/28)
Erma Vizenor: Join tribes for protest at NFL game in Minnesota (10/28)
Bill John Baker: Cherokee Nation helps build tomorrow's leaders (10/28)
Ruth Hopkins: Tribes need to raise awareness of breast cancer (10/28)
Navajo Nation election officials refuse to delay upcoming vote (10/28)
Senate candidates battle for Indian vote in South Dakota race (10/28)
Eastern Shawnee Tribe lays claim to former reservation in Ohio (10/28)
Saginaw Chippewa Tribe to investigate potential burial grounds (10/28)
Judge rules for tribes in Wyoming in dispute over diverted water (10/28)
Editorial: Delaware Tribe pursues return to homelands in Kansas (10/28)
Opinion: Cowboys and Indians come together on common cause (10/28)
Opinion: Help Moapa Band bring solar energy to more consumers (10/28)
Ex-employee sentenced for stealing from Passamaquoddy Tribe (10/28)
Chukchansi Tribe sends audits to NIGC as casino remains closed (10/28)
Little River Band still touting proposal for off-reservation casino (10/28)
Santee Sioux Tribe getting ready to debut golf course at casino (10/28)
Nisqually Tribe to launch part of $45M casino expansion project (10/28)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.